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Filling in FormsHaving told you in great detail about my hyphenated surname, you should know that I get all uppity about titles as well, so let’s get that off my chest.

My preferred title, by the way, is Ms.  Preferred as in chosen.  You don’t get to call me whatever you like, or what you guess I must prefer just because of my age or the fact that I have children.

And by title, I mean honorific, according to Wikipedia.  But my Collins Concise English Dictionary published in 1982 still recognizes the word title as “5. a formal designation such as Mr.”  and the word honorific is an adjective which means showing respect.  Anyway, title is what it says in front of the box every time I am required to fill in a form.

I'd happily do without one altogether, because I prefer to be addressed by my first name.  People seldom say my surname correctly anyway, or ignore one half or the other of it.  I really have no need to be called Ms, Miss or Mrs anything.  Unless you insist I call you Dr Jones or Mr Smith or whatever.  Then you had better get my name and title right. 

If I must use an honorific or a title, it would be nice if I could go and get myself a Phd.  Then I could call myself Dr instead, or Professor.  Wing Commander, Air Commodore, Admiral or General have a nice ring to them too, or I could go with Duchess, Princess, Chairman, Sultan or perhaps Reverend.  Pharaoh, Regina, Lady, Darth, or something beginning with Grand perhaps. 

Auntie is one I can legitimately use, but really only in the company of my nephew.

Anyway, if someone insists on addressing me formally, I really think they should go to the trouble of actually knowing my surname, and my preferred title, or at least asking it, and not just presuming or making it up.

When I first got married I started getting called Mrs.  This was not my choice.  I had always insisted on Ms, and continued to do so.  This was my little stand for equality.  "If someone wants to know whether I am married or single, they don't have an automatic right to know without knowing me or asking me, the same as a man" I argued.  "Making that distinction invites discrimination".  I still believe this today, and still insist upon it, much as it is a drag to do so.

Secretly though, especially when I was first married, I enjoyed the instances of Mrs.  I wore it like a status symbol.  I was a married lady.  Respectable.  Loved.  Belonging.  Grown up.  But I stood by my principals.

In Australia, we don't much go around calling people Sir or Madam or Mr or Ms.  Titles are just something that get printed out on your bills and filled in on forms.  To us, the way Alice says "Mr & Mrs Brady", or the way Daphne says "Dr Crane" is just odd.  Staff tend to be on a first name basis with their employers, especially in a domestic situation like that, which is really quite intimate. 

Anyway, just call me Yvette; you're less likely to get an earful.

 

 

Comments   

#1 Dea Pulaczewski 2008-02-20 01:47
When I was first married...almost 19 years ago, a "Mrs" title - it was very important, and made me feel important to be identified as Mrs. Blah Blah. I felt important, like I was "somebody". In my soul, I belonged to somebody. Now, almost 20 years later, I feel lucky just to be known as my full name. Seems when we are younger and getting up into the world, both personally and career wise, it makes a difference (or did back in the '80s) to be "married". To be single after 30 yrs old, people tended to stick a label to you. You STILL single? Thank God, times have changed. We don't have to be defined by a title or your marital status!

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